Thursday, 24 January 2013

Robot Goalie

Robot Goalie
Roger Hurn
Stevenage, Badger, 2011, 32p

Badger Learning recently sent me a small box of short, low level books, which are part of their First Flight series. They are also part of the Accelerated Reader reading scheme, which our library has just implemented. Whilst setting up AR, I found our library lacked books at the lower levels of the reading program, so have been ardently searching for something my students might be interested in.

Robot Goalie is a tale in which two siblings find plans for their Great Uncle's inventions, and bring his design to life to create a robot goalie, in the hope of winning a penalty shoot-out competition. The book is short, but the story is well paced, maintaining the reader's interest. 

Throughout the First Flight series, the books seem to have a similar structure. They contain a list of a few key words at the beginning, giving the reader the opportunity to look up a definition before embarking on the story. This is particularly helpful for readers with limited vocabulary, and works well alongside AR, which aims to expand students' comprehension. At the end of the book, there is a page of facts - in this case, facts about inventions. There are also some questions about the plot, so teachers and parents can test the children's understanding. 

The words and paragraphs are well spaced throughout the book, and the pages are broken up with illustrations. These factors, I feel, help the reader follow the story by setting the pace. 

According to the AR Book Levels, this story is at the lower end of the scale, but should be of interest to "middle years" students, typically aged between 9 to 13. I feel that this is an accurate estimate of the interest level.

Unfortunately, the concern in my library is that there are very few books at a low reading level with high interest level. Many of the 11-year-old students I know would prefer to read more racy, exciting books, even if they have a low reading level. I am concerned that there is a gap in the market caused by an assumption that less able students like to read less interesting books. 


  1. Hi Katherine! Hope you're well!
    I have to agree with you on this- have you tried the company Oliver Michael Books? I just had a publisher-selected batch delivered that claims to be high interest, low reading ability. There's quite a lot of NF work too, which at my school seems quite popular amongst the 1.0-3.9 reading level pupils. Stuff on street dance and bands.
    It's the most frustrating thing, thinking that the only thing that you can offer to low ability kids is something inane.
    Rising Stars' selections are good too, quite graphic-novel-y.

  2. I'd second the recommendation for the boxes from Oliver Michael. When I started the low-level fiction was incredibly dated so I've bought 2 or 3 boxes from both these companies. While the Badger ones are good for topping up, the Oliver Michael boxes provide a better range, including some much edgier horror and 'issues' titles from Barrington Stoke.